Society|Arts & Leisure
Guest Writer|29.03.2012

Czechoslovaks in the Gulag

The story of the thousands of Czechoslovaks interned in the Soviet Union’s notorious Gulag forced labor camp system, which was downplayed by Prague for political reasons during the Communist era, is the subject of a new exhibition that is the first fruit of research on the subject being carried out by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (ÚSTR).

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Politics & Policy|Society
Petr Nováček|08.03.2012

Communists a dilemma in Social Democrats’ quest for power

Sen. Jaromír Štětina and others have amassed hundreds of damning testimonies regarding the nature of the Communist Party (KSČM) in hopes of having it banned. But recent expert analyses by the Interior Ministry show there are insufficient legal grounds to do so; in fact, the KSČM could even declared a “democratic party” by a high Czech court. Commentator Petr Nováček explores what this all means for the center-left Social Democrats.

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Politics & Policy|Society
Tom Jones|06.03.2012

Communist system better than current one, most Czechs say

 

Czechs are losing faith in the country’s democratic system, according to a poll conducted in February, with 42% of respondents saying they consider democracy to be the best of all forms of political leadership, compared to 49% a year ago, and 50% in 2009. What is more, 60% consider the current political system to be “mostly bad” or “very bad,” while only 37% of respondents say the system prior to 1989 fit into those categories.

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Society|Arts & Leisure
Guest Writer|06.03.2012

Historian: Gottwald’s cremation not necessarily due to ‘botched embalming’

“Laboratory of Power” is the title of a new permanent exhibition at Prague’s Vítkov National Memorial recreating the chamber in which the embalmed corpse of Czechoslovakia’s first Communist president, Klement Gottwald, was preserved for almost a decade. It is widely believed that the body’s cremation in 1962 was necessary as it had started decomposing due to a botched embalming job. But is it true?

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Politics & Policy|Society
Brian Kenety|24.02.2012

Red Star also ‘symbol of freedom,’ Czech police argue

Police in Semily say they will not act on a criminal complaint filed in December by a local architect to remove a massive mosaic facing the Czech town’s main square that features a hammer & sickle and five-pointed red star — communist symbols some find as offensive as the Nazi swastika, and which politicians have tried to ban at the EU level. The architect objects to the mayor’s pragmatic solution on aesthetic grounds and finds the police’s reasoning “perverse.”

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Society
Guest Writer|30.01.2012

Havel: ‘Now I don’t have to write my memoirs!’

Shortly before Václav Havel passed away, a mammoth book was published containing hundreds of letters the late president exchanged with Vilém Prečan, the exiled founder of the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre. Prečan, a historian who was key in smuggling and archiving dissident writers’ work, says the letters shed new light on facets of Havel’s work that have faded from the Czech public’s consciousness.

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Society
Tom Jones|13.01.2012

Thousands of Czechs seek recognition as ‘Third Resistance’ members

Ministry of Defense says first decisions on applications for recognition for actively resisting the communist regime in Czechoslovakia should be made in February, and that an appeals tribunal is currently being establishing.

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Society
Guest Writer|12.01.2012

The debate that won’t die: Havel and Kundera on whether protest is worthwhile

In the winter of 1968-1969, a few months after the Kremlin sent tanks to crush the Prague Spring, two men who would go on to become the most famous Czech countemporary writers in the world, Václav Havel and Milan Kundera, waged a fierce battle in print about what, if anything, could be salvaged from the wreckage. There are some delicious ironies in the Havel-Kundera polemic, writes Benjamin Herman for RFE/RL.

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Society|Arts & Leisure
Brian Kenety|03.01.2012

Czech writer, publisher Josef Škvorecký dies

Josef Škvorecký, a former Czech dissident writer who continued to support fellow authors back in Czechoslovakia after fleeing to Canada in early 1969, died in Toronto on Tuesday of cancer. He was 87. Along with his wife, actress and fellow émigré writer Zdena Salivarová, he founded the legendary 68 Publishers; the imprint became an important outlet for dissident writers like Milan Kundera  and Václav Havel.

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Society
Michael Stein|23.12.2011

Red Museums project showcases Communism’s empty ‘temples of knowledge’

Red Museums shows how a new crowd of museum-goers and a new ideology were linked by the then Stalinist regime in an attempt to create communist “temples of knowledge.” Through photographs, videos and a wide range of displays with excellent documentation in Czech and English, the exhibition tells the story of how the communist period affected Czech historical knowledge — and still influences it.

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